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AS IS | Carol Salmanson


From Providence, Rhode Island (U.S.)

Based in New York

Carol is an unconventional artist, working with light and reflective materials to create hypnotizing light and wall sculptures. Her recent solo show was presented at the Guild Gallery (NY), where we were lucky to catch her and talk about art, inspiration and get some tips for those who just begin their journey in the art world

1 - "Light Spills and Sprites"; 2 - "Radiations Series 3"; 3 - "Tri-Quadular Cone"

A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you into art?

C: I actually tried to get away from art. My family was very much against it: I found out years later just how against my family was. So I tried other things, like a business career. But I didn’t feel complete without doing it. It’s kind of a curse. I had no choice.

A: What inspires you the most?

C: The art in history that I never stop loving is Byzantine architecture, and especially Byzantine mosaics. To me they are the original light art. The daylight coming through the windows was calculated into their forms, and their color. I also get inspired by a day going to contemporary galleries in New York. Seeing what other artists are doing sparks so many ideas. I might not use them, but I get charged up anyway.

A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?

C: What an interesting question. I can’t say I do, though. I have long periods without physically making any art, but I think that I’m working. I think it’s subconscious processing, So even though I’m not making anything, it doesn’t mean I’m not working. I had a teacher who said, when I asked him about this, ‘you have to take in before you put out. So when you’re not working it’s because you’re taking in.’ I think people subconsciously process way more than they think.

A: What would you recommend to someone who's new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?

C: To new artists: ‘Don’t do it.’ (laughs) That’s what my mother said. Don’t expect to sell, don’t expect to get a lot of shows. Do it because you have to. There are far easier ways to make money than being an artist.

If you ignore what I just said, or are an admirer, then I guess, look at a lot of it. Of all eras. Art history is really important because, as a teacher of mine used to say, “nothing comes from nothing.” There are always antecedents, things that came before that relate to what is being done now, even if it’s not obvious. You just have to look and look and look…and be sure to enjoy it.

A: Your top 3 adjectives related to art?

C: Passion, emotion, craft -there has to be enough craft to accomplish or communicate passion and emotion. The craft might not be obvious, it might look naïve, but good art always has it. Like the Fauvists, the early 20th century movement that a young Matisse was a part of, they had the craft, even if it didn’t seem so to many at the time..

A: The best angle to look at art is from …?

C: Open, not jaded.

A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is:.?

C: There isn’t one. It depends on the work – a “perfect phrase” would be about me, and it should always be about the work.

A: Must-read books to help us talk about art (or do we even need them)?

C: The first book I read about art that talked about art history, I could never read again, it was way too difficult. But I didn’t find it difficult then, I was so excited to learn about it. It’s the “Voices of Silence” (“Voix de Silence”) by Andre Malraux. Now I read a lot about contemporary art, but not about philosophy or critical theory.

A: If you could change one thing in the art world - what would it be?

C: Get rid of at least half of the MFA programs. There are way too many students (and cost way too much money), and not enough galleries, not enough collectors for the quantity of graduates.

A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art)

C: “Only the mediocre are always at their best”. It took me a long time to find out who actually originated that, it was Jean Giraudoux, a French author whose work I actually haven’t read. I first heard the sentence when I was starting out, and it was attributed to a jazz critic. It’s been my constant reminder that you have to be willing to make lousy work if you want to push yourself to grow.

Thank you!

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